Dirty Dining: Why and how we do it

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We go through every restaurant that’s been inspected to see which ones were cited for the most priority health code violations.The worst offenders make our Dirty Dining list. (Source: CBS 5) We go through every restaurant that’s been inspected to see which ones were cited for the most priority health code violations.The worst offenders make our Dirty Dining list. (Source: CBS 5)
(Source: Serghei Starus via 123RF) (Source: Serghei Starus via 123RF)
(Source: matter77 via 123RF) (Source: matter77 via 123RF)
Cockroaches in the kitchen are usually a clear sign that you may want to go out to eat someplace else. (Source: Mr.Smith Chetanachan via 123RF) Cockroaches in the kitchen are usually a clear sign that you may want to go out to eat someplace else. (Source: Mr.Smith Chetanachan via 123RF)
Every week, we feature six restaurants that have received a perfect score on their latest health inspection report. (Source: CBS 5) Every week, we feature six restaurants that have received a perfect score on their latest health inspection report. (Source: CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

CBS 5 was the first station in the Valley to report on local restaurants not keeping clean kitchens.

My first Dirty Dining story was back in 2002. We followed Maricopa County health inspectors into various restaurants. Their job was to make sure the health of customers wasn’t at risk.

The story was so popular that we decided to do a weekly segment that highlighted restaurants not doing a good job protecting the public from possible foodborne illnesses.

Over the years, inspectors have cited restaurants in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Goodyear, Avondale, Peoria, Glendale, Anthem, Chandler, Gilbert, Buckeye, Gila Bend, Apache Junction and Queen Creek.

[MORE: Dirty Dining]

Some of the worst offenders have had plumbing problems, where raw sewage has leaked into the kitchen.

I have also seen restaurants with numerous flies and bugs. Cockroaches in the kitchen are usually a clear sign that you may want to go out to eat someplace else.

[KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Check out a restaurant]

[BAD EXPERIENCE: File a complaint with the county]

Health inspectors tell us there are two types of violations for which restaurants can be cited.

A priority violation is a major violation that directly contributes to increasing the risk of foodborne illness or injury. 

A core violation is a minor violation that relates to general maintenance and sanitation.

Priority violations are considered "major" violations. Those are only violations we look at to judge whether a restaurant is featured in our weekly Dirty Dining report.

A lot of people ask me how we choose the restaurants that make the Dirty Dining List.

It's pretty simple.

Every week, Maricopa County Environmental Services updates its webpage to show the restaurants that have recently been inspected.

We go through every restaurant that’s been inspected to see which ones were cited for the most priority health code violations.The worst offenders make our Dirty Dining list.

We want to be fair to all restaurants so we decided to only highlight businesses with four or more major violations.

Many restaurant owners have called me personally to complain that I am ruining their businesses. That is not our intention at all.

We are simply relaying the information provided to us by county health inspectors while informing the public about possible concerns to their health.

Some restaurant owners argue that they fixed the violations right away when the inspector pointed them out. While that might be the case, inspectors tell me that doesn’t excuse the violation since it may not have been corrected if it weren't for the inspector showing up that day.

Our Dirty Dining segment also highlights the Valley restaurants that are doing a great job protecting the public’s health.

Every week, we feature six restaurants that have received a perfect score on their latest health inspection report.

We tell offenders that if they get a perfect score on their next inspection, we will feature them on our Dean’s List, as well.

My wife doesn’t always love the fact that I do these Dirty Dining reports.

Her biggest concern is if one of our favorite restaurants is on the Dirty Dining List, then we can never go back there, and if we do go back, there may be something "extra" put in our food.

We haven’t had a problem yet.

To find Dirty Dining in our free azfamily.com mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, tap the Investigations tile and then scroll the tabs at the top of the page to Dirty Dining. Be sure to turn on push alerts in the app's Settings menu so I can let you know as soon as the newest report is posted each week.

I am always interested in hearing about good and bad experiences that diners have at Valley restaurants so please share your stories with me on my Facebook page -- @JasonBarryTV.


Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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